Eudora News and

Over the coming weeks we plan on bringing you profiles of the candidates for both Eudora City Council and the Eudora School Board.  We sent out a questionnaire to all candidates and asked them the exact same questions. Their responses to the questions will be printed verbatim.  This is opportunity for you, the reader, to see not only their responses but how they respond.  The questions in the survey came from both editorial board decisions and reader input.

The first School Board candidate to profile is Dr. Daniel Dickerson.

Dr. Dickerson, please tell about your background.

I am 46 years old and have lived in Eudora for 10 years.  I have been married to Jill Dickerson for 21 years.  I have 2 children, Madeline in 11th grade and Camille in 9th grade at Eudora High School.  All of my education has been in the public school system.  I attended the University of Missouri at Columbia and earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in both biological sciences and psychology.  I completed my Doctor for Philosophy in chemistry from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.  I received my Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine.  My residency training in family medicine was completed at the University of Kansas Medical Center and at Olathe Medical Center.  I am a family physician at Eudora Family Care and am associated with Lawrence Memorial Hospital.  We are very excited to open our new Eudora facility (Church Street and K-10) on April 15, 2011.

What qualifications do you have for a seat on the School Board?

My leadership positions include Chief of Family Medicine at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and member of the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Medical Executive Committee.  I am a clinical instructor for the University of Kansas School of Medicine and was the 2006 winner of the Rainbow Award for excellence in student mentoring.  In 2005, I was honored by the American Academy of Family Physicians with the AAFP Foundation Teaching Development Award.   I am also a graduate of the American Academy of Family Physicians Leadership Program.  I have teaching experience at the university undergraduate, graduate and professional levels.  In the past, I taught undergraduate and graduate level anatomy, microbiology, physiology, pathology and biochemistry.  Currently, I teach introduction to clinical medicine, clinical family medicine and rural medicine.

What do you think is the most important issue that faces the School Board and how would you help solve that issue?

The most important issue that faces a school board is communication with the community.  Communication is a key component to empower all stakeholders in the learning community.  Eudora no longer has a newspaper.  There is no a common source of information for the community to receive school board information.  The school district has a very good website; however, many people in the community do not have internet access.  Seeking alternative modes of communication and educating stakeholders as to where information can be accessed should be goals of the School Board.  While the information from Eudora schools is readily available on the website, it is common for school board meeting notes to be posted up to two months after the meeting.  Currently, a typical posting is a very short synopsis of what was presented during a meeting.  Additional information about discussion points and decisions made would be welcomed by constituents.  If I am on the board I will facilitate transparent communications with members of our learning community through electronic formats such as e-mail, website and twitter.  Hardcopies of information will be provided on request.

The budget situation for the school district is an important topic.  What kind of solutions do you have to help solve School District budgetary issues?

The current financial climate and the decline of school funding have led to some of the most difficult decisions that school boards have had to make in decades.  Given these funding challenges, school boards will need to find ways to maintain the high standard of education while protecting educational programs and co-curricular activities.   All items must be placed on the table for prioritizing.  In depth conversations with stakeholders must be part of this process.  The district is lean, additional cuts will be very difficult and will require much thoughtfulness.  Recruiting and retaining high quality faculty will be critical.   Practices such as developing professional learning communities, enhancing the new teacher mentoring program and providing time for teachers to connect with colleagues through distance learning teams are examples of strategies that attract and support high caliber educators at little cost.  Educators continue to “do more with less.”  Our first priority must be to keep quality teachers in the classrooms.

What ideas to you have to either continue the quality of education or improve it at the schools?

As the parent of two Eudora students, I have a vested interest in the school district’s success.  I will assist the Eudora School District as it navigates through the current decline of school funding by explore all options and asking many questions.  I will advocate for Eudora students by protecting educational programs while remaining keenly aware of financial constraints.  I will do everything possible to maintain and build upon the relevant, rigorous education provided in our schools.  US News and World Report listed Eudora as a bronze level school.   There was only one school in the state of Kansas at the Silver or Gold Level.  To reach the Silver or Gold level, Eudora schools need to offer advance placement courses.  A goal of Eudora schools should be to achieve a level of excellence by implementing advance placement programs at the high school level and strengthening the advanced coursework at all grade levels.

What is your position on state financing of School Districts?

An educated society is a strong society.  Kansas needs to finance school districts to make the community and state stronger.  As a member of the Eudora School Board, I will advocate on behalf of the school district and students.  I will actively engage state and national legislators in conversations about student learning and the importance of investing in our youth though education.

What other issues do you feel are important to the school board?

As a family physician for Eudora Family Care, I have the unique opportunity to hear the accolades and concerns that surround Eudora schools from students, staff and community members.  We have a tradition of educational excellence in Eudora.  Eudora has strong community involvement, wonderful facilities and an outstanding staff.  We must work to prepare our students with 21st century skills where students are highly sought after in the job market.  This will require professional development that keeps educators informed on best practice instructional strategies that engage our students.

Why do you want to sit on the School Board?

As a physician, I often counsel my school-age patients and their families.  This counseling involves all aspects of the child’s health, expectations and goals.  I want Eudora students to have every opportunity to succeed at any career path they choose.   As a member of the School Board, I will keep student needs a priority as the district considers new policies and programs.

We will be bringing you the responses from all the candidates that have so far chosen to respond over the coming days and weeks leading up to the election. You will have the opportunity to meet the candidates face to face on March 23rd when The Eudora Chamber of Commerce and co-sponsor our “Meet the Candidates” forum. The forum will begin at 6:30PM. For more information about the forum you can click on this link: Election day is Tuesday, April 5th.

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